When Lady Ophelia accosted me—
us as alike as two lambs
from the same ewe—I waited
for her to make her proposal:

her tear-bloated unhappiness plain
as a play script, even if I can’t read,
though once I hear my lines,
I remember them at once.

“What’s in it for me?” I bluffed,
knowing the rewards, and besides,
playing a court lady in real life,
the role of a lifetime.

Then there was Hamlet, a handsome,
well-born sod who’d marry me church-legal;
I’d live fairy-tale happy, dropping him
babies and whispering how to get rid

of his uncle, who, rumors froth,
killed Hamlet’s father, to steal the throne
and the love of the prince’s boisterous mother.
Except I didn’t reckon on my vixen-shaped

birthmark, whereas her thigh was unblemished,
to make him think I’d murdered her. I tried
to fight him, but he was crazed, his soft hands
choking me into dark silence.

When I hit the water, I came to, but never
could swim, and besides, My Lady’s gown
and petticoats dragged me under,
like a rock tossed by a sullen schoolboy:

all my dreams vanishing in choking bubbles.